Q. I’m writing because I’ve been rather perplexed for quite some time over the issue of those who profess Christ as Savior yet their behavior does not reflect having the Holy Spirit inside them. I’m certainly not standing in judgment because I too am a wretched sinner, but I see over and over in the church those who have “called on the name of the Lord” but show little evidence of the power and influence of the Spirit. Is it possible to claim Jesus as Savior but not be saved? I see in 2 Peter 2:1 that there are false prophets/teachers who deny the Lord Who bought them. Were they ever saved or not?
A. People can say anything, and unfortunately there seem to be many who call themselves Christian whose lives don’t appear to have changed. Were they sincere when they professed their belief? Only the Lord knows, because only He can see what’s in their heart.
Even when observing those who appear to have changed, we can only see the outer works of the flesh and have no way of knowing whether they spring from pure motives or not.
But the Lord does know these things. Paul said He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men’s hearts. Therefore we should judge nothing before the appointed time, but wait until He comes (1 Cor. 4:5). We may be surprised to see who winds up standing with us in the presence of the Lord and who doesn’t.
As for false teachers, if you read John 1:29 and John 3:16 carefully, you’ll see that Jesus died for the sins of the world. It’s just that only those who believe He died for them personally will reap the benefit.
But 2 Peter 2:1 does means what it says about false teachers. The Lord’s death could pardon them if they would allow it. Instead, they spread false doctrine and in the process not only don’t save themselves, they lead others away, too. The destiny Peter describes for them is not pleasant.
In Matt. 7:23 Jesus said when these people come to Him calling Him Lord and claiming to have performed miracles in His name, He will say, “Away from me you evil doers. I never knew you.” This proves they were never saved.